Saturday, February 22, 2014


“It says right across your forehead, integrity for sale,” isn’t just a catchy lyric found on a Nickelback CD – it’s a reflection of our times. It’s also a cringe-worthy cultural truth we are constantly being forced to face by those who, whether intentionally or not, take the public stage hostage and use it as a platform to show the world just how despicable and stupid a human being can be.

For us Canadians, though, up until recently this cultural pain was felt for the most part vicariously through our neighbors to the south – those psychotic, gun-slinging, fast food, evolution-denying, creationist, Walmart-Americans with their bizarre, over-the-top celebrity worship and cartoon politics.

But then the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, and his long suffering wife, Renata, came along like a counter-superhero with his cunnilingus-receiving sidekick to ruin the day and obliterate any smugness Canadians might have been harbouring regarding their superior level-headedness and decorum.

He is Rob Ford! The Apologizing Man! His special anti-power is his insincere-sincere apology…sincerely.

It would seem he never leaves his house without an apology in his right pocket and a crack pipe in his left. He keeps his Special-Shield-Apology-Badge with him at all times for those inevitable occasions when he needs to apologize, like when he’s caught in a drunken stupor while jay-walking or toking on a crack pipe while planning the demise of one of his many enemies.

When he’s caught – which he always is – he whips out his badge with an unsteady hand, immediately staggers to his knees and offers up an apology after the fact the way a praying man offers up prayers of thanks. The difference, however, is that unlike the praying man, Rob, the Apologizing Man, falls to his knees because he is weak in more ways than one and letting empty contrition drool out of his mouth requires a lot less effort than being accountable.

Basically, this privileged, undisciplined goofball and his equally ridiculous wife have made deals with the devil – albeit a Looney Tunes Tasmanian one – in which integrity has been exchanged for addiction and all the corruption and soul-erosion that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of self-indulgent substance and food abuse Rob Ford enjoys.

Actually, I’m not sure if Robby Boy, whose denial is so great he refers to himself in third person because he cannot bear to accept the buffoon that he is in first person, ever had any integrity to begin with. But if he did, he lost it along with the definition of “sincerely”.

He has made so many public apologies using the word “sincerely”, when clearly he is NOT sincere, that one has to wonder if he has dyslexia in addition to his other glaring problems.

It is as if he believes the word “sorry” literally works like a delete key and that its mere utterance completely erases deplorable behavior, as if the behavior never happened in the first place. He has convinced himself of this so thoroughly that he actually becomes quite offended when asked by reporters and others to explain himself.

He doesn’t understand what the controversy is all about. As far as he’s concerned, he might be a man who likes to have a good time outside of his job, but so what – who doesn’t? And sure, he’s “a little rough around the edges”, but he’s also a man who “calls a spade a spade” and has never missed a day of work.

He also has NEVER taken advantage of the free zoo pass to which he is entitled as a council member and is quite pleased with this apparent self-sacrifice. Indeed, he thinks it is a DISGRACE other counsellors would waste taxpayer dollars by taking advantage of ANY of the varied perks allowed them – Rob Ford, for one, would NEVER rip off the electorate in such a blatantly unfair way.

While other counsellors are living large with free metro passes, for example, Mayor Ford resigns himself to blasting around in his own gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade using fuel he pays for himself. He furthermore has apologized REPEATEDLY and that should be good enough. Geesh. He’s only human. What do people want from him?

Watching any one of Rob Ford’s apologies, preposterous rationalizations and deep affronts is the funniest thing ever seen on Canadian news. He has turned the news hours into Late Night with Ford Nation. It is awesome.

Well, let’s not get carried away here – it’s awesome if you’re an absurdist. I’m not at all sure if it’s awesome if your name is Renata Ford or if you refer to the good Mayor as “daddy”.

I nevertheless cannot wait to see what haphazard feat The Apologizing Man next stumbles over and the weird apology that is SURE to follow…sincerely.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Defining the Alcoholic Slave

An alcoholic is anyone who has a problem with alcohol. At first glance, this might seem obvious, but an alcoholic is not necessarily a daily imbiber. An alcoholic furthermore is not always the unkempt homeless man sleeping under a bridge with a bottle of cheap wine encased in a brown paper bag.

Alcoholism is an equal opportunity disorder. It does not discriminate based on wealth, education, social status, religion, gender or race. Basically, alcoholics drink differently than non-alcoholics. They are a slave to alcohol and seek out that ethanol release like a parched mouth seeks water, and it is this quintessential imbiber difference that defines an alcoholic.

For some alcoholics the compulsion to drink is so strong they willingly make a proverbial deal with the devil and trade their souls for drunkenness. They stumble around in alcohol-induced suicidal madness, forsaking everything for their liquid enslaver. Family, marriage, career, scruples, religion, health, home, finances, pride, integrity, morality and eventually their very lives – all of these things are auctioned off. They sleep wherever, do whatever and drink whatever, as long as there is alcohol in it.

The entire purpose of a hardcore alcoholic’s life is to maintain inebriation at any cost. Rock bottom for this category of alcoholic is death. And an alcohol related death can be a particularly sad and gruesome one, whether by disease, accident or suicide. However, this kind of “drink to the death” alcoholic does not offer a full definition.

An alcoholic could also be the functioning businessman, homemaker, attentive mother, preacher, therapist, teacher, doctor or police officer. The alcoholic therefore is not defined by outward appearances; although, given enough time, all alcoholics will have their lives negatively and noticeably impacted by their problem drinking.

Eventually spouses, children, bosses, friends and family will have had enough. If that does not happen, it is highly likely the legal, psychiatric, social or general health care systems will become a feature in the alcoholic’s life.

The pattern and context of an alcoholic’s drinking can also vary. Consequently, an alcoholic cannot simply be defined by daily intoxication. Some alcoholics maintain a constant state of inebriation all through the day, every day, while others binge only on the weekends. Some restrict their drinking to nighttime or social occasions. Others drink to self-medicate, unwind at the end of the day, or to take the edge off in the mornings.

Then there are the reasons an alcoholic drinks. Basically an alcoholic will find any justification to drink, no matter what the occasion. The sun is out or it is raining, good news, bad news, failure, success, celebration, grief, happiness, anger, disappointment and excitement – the potential list of excuses is inexhaustible, because in reality there is no reason to drink, other than the overwhelming desire for alcohol.

Essentially, the difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic is an intense attraction to alcohol, regardless of circumstance or consequence. The common thread for an alcoholic is that he or she drinks to oblivion. They cannot stop at one. The urge to keep imbibing is as real as the urge to eat another potato chip. The overeater finds it hard to stop at one chip, and the alcoholic finds it torture to stop at one drink.

Ultimately, an alcoholic can be defined by how alcohol rules his or her life. If alcohol and intoxication is the point of life, the highlight of life, and the reason for living – if it is the catalyst behind a life of chaos and ruin – then this is the definition of an alcoholic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tardy for the...everything.

I was late again. There was no reason for it. I had been awake for something like 3 hours and I had no children to get ready in my usual frantic “the end is near!” rush. There was no pressing housework drudgery or any other kind of work that couldn’t wait.

There was no spin class at an ungodly hour and it wasn’t garbage day, which right there is a legitimate reason to be late as the trash cannot be put on the curb the night before on account of the bear. I don’t know why the bear doesn’t hibernate like a normal bear. Nothing can be normal around here. NOTHING.

In addition, the little dogs that surround and torment me were not barking or otherwise whining for attention. Insomnia hadn’t kept me up half the night tossing and turning, thereby causing debilitating emotionality. I didn’t spill anything, take a tumble, or unthinkingly answer the phone and get sucked into one of those tedious early-morning telephone conversations I can’t extricate myself from before I start to feel my sanity slip.

No. There never was and never is any socially acceptable excuse for my tardiness, even if the kinder people in my life try to drum one up for me.  It’s very nice of them to try, but the fact is, tardiness has been a personal “issue” for the entirety of my life and thus I think it’s time to just call it what it is: a personality trait …a flaw.

I have always seen it as a flaw as has everyone else (albeit not always to my face) and it has caused me great self-loathing. However, in my current quest for self-acceptance and inner peace I have decided to stop beating myself up for being myself. I shall accept the things I evidently cannot change about myself…consequences be damned.

And oh there are consequences even though I do not think it’s fair that there should be consequences. Should I be penalized for being myself? I don’t think so…I nevertheless might be the only one who thinks this. My kids, for example, would not be on board with my new philosophy AT ALL.

But it’s not just my kids and the schools they attend that have this rigid demand everyone be on time ALL the time; society as a whole places a lot of importance on timeliness. We must all abide the mighty clock. I understand this is generally necessary for a smoothly running society, but as with any function of existence there has to be a homeostatic system in place that compensates for wayward variables.

I am a wayward variable.

There. I’ve said it. I admit it. I fall outside the norm and always have, which must be why the abnormal bear is attracted to my presence. Like attracts like.

I therefore think I should be granted a pardon from the clock and homeostatic mechanisms allowed the freedom to do their thing, which in this case means inconveniencing other people, but if homeostasis works properly then those people won’t notice. It will merely be an everyday part of life – one of those inconveniences we all have to become habituated to, like having to waste our limited lifespans on sleep or mundane jobs when there are other things we’d rather be doing with our time.

So now I just have to convince everyone else…shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Delusions of Saving the world one Facebook share at a Time

I went to lunch last week with Henrietta, a woman who talks a lot. I’ve known her a long time and so was prepared that I would be the listener at this little get together, as that has always been the case. It’s okay though, I don’t mind, at least not for the first 2 hours before I lose focus on her words, become antsy and my thoughts begin to wander.

However, before that happens, I usually find in the midst of her tangentiality, irrationality, fabrications, confabulations and impassioned, frequently incoherent babble little flecks of wisdom, practical lifestyle tips on a whole range of topics and, being one who enjoys absurdity, humor.

I also knew that in addition to being the listener, it was likely that at some point in this “conversation” she would feel compelled to share an unflattering opinion she had formed of me, either a new one since the last time we spoke or else one I’d heard before that she felt MUST be repeated in case I had forgotten. But she needn’t worry – few people forget the insults, especially people like me.

Oddly, though, for whatever reason when she voices her lowly opinions of me I do not necessarily get offended. If anyone else said the sorts of things to me she does, I’m sure I would be deeply offended and would retaliate with my own unflattering opinion of the other person.

In this particular situation, the unflattering opinion came about 3 hours into her monologue when I'd all but stopped paying attention and was in the process of screaming obscenities at her in my head.

It was as I was mentally preparing to make my escape, when Henrietta leaned in and said she had something to tell me that I wasn’t going to like. Boom! My low self-esteem, which is always on the lookout for further validation, snapped to attention, ready to hang onto every word she was about to utter.

She hesitated for only the briefest of a moment, perhaps some foreign part of her brain nagging her to reconsider, which as it turned out she completely disregarded.  She opted instead to go ahead and tell me that based on my Facebook shares, status updates and commentary she had determined I had a misplaced desire to “save the world” which she strongly emphasized was NOT an “honorable” thing at all, especially in the manner in which I was apparently trying to do it.

There was nothing honorable, she went on, about spreading negative thoughts all over Facebook and thus ALL of the internet and ultimately the planet like some sort of ruthless mega-virus, which was exactly what I was doing when I brought stories of brutality and injustice to the attention of my small circle of Facebook “friends”.

“Strange,” I remarked, “and here I’ve always felt pretty much ignored in life. I had no idea I had this kind of global influence. I mean, I can’t even get John to pick his towel up off the bathroom floor.”

Henrietta, as if to prove my point, ignored my sarcasm and forged ahead.

She elaborated that I was pretty much ruining the lives of not only everyone I knew, but also everyone I didn’t know, i.e. I was doing the OPPOSITE of saving the world, I was single-handedly DESTROYING the world by focusing everyone’s attention on the ugly side of existence.

She moreover advised that if I ever hoped to make even a slight difference to humankind I needed to concentrate my evidently formidable powers of mind control on spreading positive thoughts, images, quotes, memes, stories and links to my captive Facebook audience. Henrietta by the way believes Facebook and ALL of the internet are the same thing.

It does not matter how many times or how simply I try to explain it to her, she refuses to accept that Facebook and the World Wide Web are not synonymous…but then this is also a woman who thinks I possess the persuasive powers of the Antichrist so what should I expect?

In other words, the above was her unique way of letting me know that she was onto me. I might have everyone else fooled, but SHE knew what I REALLY had planned for humanity and it wasn’t pretty. I might even bring the world to an apocalyptic end. And who was the one and only person on Earth who could thwart my diabolical plan? You guessed it: Henrietta.

She was going to stop me not just by getting me to focus only on positive things and avoid anything negative, but by saving my marriage. She reasoned if she saved my marriage then SHE would be the one who saved the world because I’d be so enamoured with my husband I’d forget all about my nefarious delusions of grandeur.

Of course she did not actually tell me that her delusional goal here was to save the world from Lala domination, but I think it’s a fair inference. Ever since she first went online some 15 years ago she has been quite suspicious of my supernatural abilities and has told me more than once that she believes I am able to control certain situations around her with only my thoughts even when I am nowhere near her, not even in thought.

The first question I ask her when she confides this grand Lala paranoia is, “But why would I do that? What could I possibly gain by psychically manipulating YOU, Henrietta?”

Even though I keep asking it, this question has never rattled her steadfast belief in my evil intent, which I’m pretty happy about since her dalliance with the lunatic fringe is one of my joys in life. Don’t sweat the small stuff but do take pleasure in life's crazy absurdities, of which Henrietta is one.

After allowing Henrietta a good 30 minutes to voice her preposterous beliefs, I thought it was time to put a stop to her ramblings and even though it was futile reassured her that contrary to her suspicions, I held no delusions whatsoever of “saving” the world. I tried to explain to her that it was just hard for me to understand how we can all go around living our lives of pettiness and waste while places like North Korea are just there being run by psychotic clowns using George Orwell’s 1984 as a guide to “govern”. How do any of us sleep at night knowing this is going on?

It feels ridiculous that the superpowers of the world tolerate the completely unnecessary human suffering that is currently being inflicted on innocent people based on the whims of a sadistic megalomaniac. When does our humanity, higher intellectual functioning and the pursuit of enlightenment become more important than politics, military maneuvering, power, greed and wealth? I thought this was supposed to be the Age of Aquarius?

It, however, is a mistake (at least if you're trying to extricate yourself from her company) to bring up astrological themes with the quasi-Christian Henrietta because it just springboards her into a whole new crazy tangent, so I didn’t share my thoughts on North Korea and the Age of Aquarius, instead opting to agree with her take on my marital situation.

I promised to take her advice into consideration and told her she should be a marriage therapist. I was not serious, but it made her feel important and you’ve got to throw these people a bone every once in a while if you want to continue to be entertained by their authentic nuttiness. Fake craziness leaves me feeling bored and uninspired. Henrietta's craziness? Endlessly fascinating.

So excuse me now while I go subtly antagonize Henrietta with a new Facebook share. 

Here we see best-friends, the absurd, evil dictator, Kim Jong Un and the absurd, evil American, Dennis Rodman, plotting to overtake the world one page of George Orwell's 1984 at a time.

This particular share is the following Dennis Rodman quote in reference to his unconscionably bizarre friendship and birthday visit with North Korea’s Big Brother Dictator, Kim Jong Un, the Dear Deranged Leader:

"I'm not the president, I'm not an ambassador, I'm Dennis Rodman, just an individual, just showing the world a fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day." (Read the full article here: After North Korea, emotional Rodman urges no politics for a day).

Yeah, easy for him to babble on about a day of happiness when he’s not the one rotting in a concentration camp for the “crime” of independent thought, gnawing on rat carcasses in the hopes of surviving another day of unimaginable misery.

Dennis Rodman should be forced to stay in North Korea. He, along with his weird little North Korean friend there, is yet another disgrace to the human race.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Parenting Anonymous

I have a problem. I am powerless over my children and my life has become unmanageable. I need Parenting Anonymous. 

Signs of my pathological parenting surround me and I can no longer live in denial - the crayon is on the wall.

Every wall in my home, in fact, is decorated by various abstract pieces done in wax crayon, indelible marker and finger paint. These pieces are not framed, but rather are done in a mural style directly on the walls, courtesy of our prolific in-house artist, 2-year-old Lizzy.

She is beginning to create a name for herself too, as her art branches out to other homes. Aunty Myrtle, Grandma Rose and the Wilsons next door all have a few pieces of her work. 

Some people, like Uncle George, don't even know they own a Lizzy because occasionally she does her work discreetly in a closet or in places where portly people like Uncle George can't bend down to see. Evidently, my parenting problem is starting to affect those around me and is hurting the home decor of the ones I love.

Further signs of my problem are the tampered electronics and plumbing issues I have to contend with. As Lizzy busies herself with artistic endeavors, 4-year-old DJ has shown an interest in electronic engineering and apprenticeship plumbing. 

He has attempted to refurbish my DVD player, iPad, smart phone and PC, as well as refit a bathroom toilet using his Rescue Heroes submarine. When the submarine never resurfaced from the flooding depths of the toilet bowl, I had no choice but to call in a professional and not to mention pricey plumber to save the drowning toy.

In addition, although I try my best to cover it up, evidence of my bribery binges is strewn around the house, further attesting to my parenting problem. Empty Fisher Price and Hot Wheel packaging litter the halls and the toy boxes overflow with abandoned toys the children have lost interest in. I began to suspect I had a problem when the clerk at the toy store knew my son by name and what brand of toy he preferred.

Yet another indication of my problem is the high tolerance level the children have developed for the briberies of toys and candy. The more I give in, the more they demand. Now I have to give them three times as much as I once had in order to get the same behavioral result I desire. 

Consequently, I've discovered that as their tolerance level for bribery increases, my bank account balance decreases. Combine this with the expense of replacing household electronics, as well as calling in expensive tradespeople, and it seems that my parenting problem is not only hurting the ones I love, but also my financial bottom line.

Basically, every aspect of my existence has been impacted one way or another by my parenting problem. To others, I try to downplay or minimize the impact it has had on my life. However, it's hard to hide my unkempt appearance and bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep due to late night kitchen runs for water and jam toast. 

Furthermore, when I go to speak to someone, the hoarseness of my voice gives me away. It seems that I have a chronic case of laryngitis thanks to the children's compulsive requests to hear me repeatedly growl in my best Big Bad Wolf voice: "Little Pig, Little Pig LET ME COME IN!"

I was finally forced to face my problem when my husband confronted me with proof of my disease. It was after 11 p.m. and the children were sleeping sprawled out in the marital bed as I served myself and my husband a late supper of cold chicken nuggets, Goldfish crackers and carrot sticks. I could sense that something was bothering him by his seething silence, but nonetheless was startled when he suddenly slammed his sippy cup of chocolate milk down on the table.

He told me he felt like I had lost control of the children. He asked if I had even noticed that our new leather ottoman had mysteriously acquired little puncture wounds all over one side of it. He said it was the final straw and demanded to know what had happened to the recently purchased item. He also wanted to know why he was drinking out of Lizzy’s sippy cup at 11 o'clock at night. 

“Because since you keep telling me you're an adult, I don’t have a sippy cup especially for you," I replied. Duh.

Without another word, my husband stormed out of the playroom, where we had been dining. I could only surmise he was upset because he wanted a sippy cup of his own. Such an immature man.

But now that I was left alone with my ruminations, as far as the vandalized furniture went, even though I didn't admit it to my husband, to myself I realized Lizzy must have had something to do with the redesign, since she was, after all, our resident artist. DJ was too busy feeding his grilled cheese and Lego sandwich to the DVD player to bother with ottomans. No, this looked like Lizzy's work, I thought as I knelt down to better inspect the stool. Apparently, Lizzy was venturing into some sort of contemporary art. 

Later, I tried to justify my seeming denial to my husband and minimize his concerns as best I could. But he stomped away once again – this time to sleep in DJ’s hardly ever slept in, overpriced car bed, using a doll blanket as a pillow. Meanwhile, DJ and Lizzy slept with me in our king-sized family bed asylum. It looked like I would be spending another night crammed in between the wall and the side of the bed, with a child’s foot in my face.

Luckily, the mystery of the leather ottoman was solved the very next morning when I caught Lizzy in the act. During the endless process of picking up toys that make their way into the living room, I happened to catch Lizzy intently marching towards the ottoman with a ballpoint pen clutched in her hand.

I managed to grab the pen from her just as she was about to plunge it into the valued (according to my husband) piece of furniture. I sternly scolded her with the word "naughty" and then went into the kitchen to put the pen on top of a shelf where she couldn't reach it. When I went back into the living room to see what else Lizzy was getting into, I could not BELIEVE what I found.

There she was furiously stabbing the ottoman with a second ballpoint pen. I don't know where she got the second pen, but when I yelled at her to stop she only briefly looked up at me before continuing to stab the ottoman even faster. 

She totally disregarded me as she focused entirely on trying to get in as many stabs as she could before the pen was confiscated a second time. 

She was KILLING the ottoman. 

She looked like a crazed murderer determined to thrust as many stab wounds into her inanimate victim as possible.

In the midst of this carnage, DJ came running into the room to see what all the commotion was about. When he saw what Lizzy was doing he immediately cried out, "I want a turn!"

In my diseased mind, I reasoned that since the ottoman was already ruined, I might as well grant DJ his wish and let him have a try too.

At that point I did not see that my husband had also been awoken by the commotion and was standing in the hallway watching the proceedings with growing disbelief. He was incredulous as he witnessed me retrieve the first pen I had originally confiscated from Lizzy and to his utter disbelief handed the pen now to DJ.

As I went to settle myself in on the couch, to passively survey the mayhem, I noticed my husband standing there with horror plain on his face - that was the moment it finally hit me that I had a problem and needed help. I needed Parenting Anonymous.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nocturnal Pests in my Head

On further reflection, I do not know why I thought this (read here) particular betrayal was so unique. My enemy, Insomnia, has been reminding me of other past betrayals, similar in nature, ever since I wrote that blog, first with subtle reminders but then, when I wasn’t acknowledging those, with blatant, full-fledged memories – unpleasant memories I do not want to think about at 3 o’clock in the morning or really ever.

It turns out those Memories, unbeknownst to my conscious mind, have been nervously glued to Insomnia this entire time, biting their nails, making anxiety-provoking comments, and pointing out errors in my Beliefs.

Nightly visitors in my head, forcing their way into my exhausted thoughts.

Beliefs are there too, of course, simmering with animosity not just towards nagging recollections, but also towards Anxiety and Fear – the bastard children of Repressed Memory.

Melancholy doesn’t want me to forget about him, either, since I’m name dropping here, but he’s the one I like the least, so I’m trying to ignore him, hoping he’ll go away. For a depressed asshole, though, he seems remarkably motivated.

"I'm so happy 'cause today I found my friends, they're in my head. I'm so ugly, that's okay 'cause so are you. And I'm not scared. Light my candles in a daze 'cause I found God. My will is good..." Nirvana

In other words, the pestilent enemies in my head are coming out of the woodwork – they’re nocturnal and multiplying, and I have no chemical armour to protect myself from their viral attacks. It’s just me, my bare fisted emotions and confusing thoughts, which is what I want even as I don’t want it.

The nocturnal tormentors multiply as the night progresses - some of them clearly think it's a big joke with their smirks and insulting sarcasm.

However, I do have access to some respite if the mental torment becomes more than I can handle. I can always call on my ever-faithful friends, Denial and Self-Deception, for comfort and validation. They will help me. Their loyalty is unparalleled.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Mother

There are moments in motherhood that fill me with such bliss. I look at my little creations and marvel at the miracle of life and how lucky I am to be the mother of amazing little human beings. Tonight, however, as I sit recuperating from a day in the life of a mother, I cannot stop myself from ruminating on all that time in between the moments - all that out of control, wide open space between the moments of bliss.

I consider those interval times while still twitching from the day, and also slightly on edge with the thought that at any minute my 9-month-old taskmaster will beckon. I suspect she will summon me even though it is  and she should be able to sleep in her crib for at least four hours by now. I would be happy with one.

The day started out quite fine, splendid even.

It was one of those rare Pacific Northwest days when the sun dropped in for a visit and decided to stay for a while. The sky was blue and the clouds were sparse. The flourishing greens of summer were particularly vibrant and lush against the bright backdrop of sun and blue sky. 

Everything stays very green around here on the northern coastline because of the constant rain and mild temperatures. As other parts of the country scorch their green grass to a dull brown and dull their senses to a listless sweat, people of the Northwest are inspired by the prismatic colors of a wet and luscious environment.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to be able to leave the yellow rain slickers and sou'westers at home, beside the umbrella collection and sheets of plastic and enjoy the beauty of the day with my children. Enjoying or even finding the beauty of the day isn't always possible in this muskeg world where I live, but the essential feel of this particular day made me hopeful.

I was so uplifted by the sunshine that I decided to take my kids for a drive down our scenic highway that snakes along one of British Columbia's great rivers. I thought we'd stop for a nice picnic lunch somewhere along the riverbanks and take in all that fresh air and breathtaking scenery, as well as soak up some of that normally elusive sunshine. My northern born fledglings could use the vitamin D.

Thus, with a sense of adventure and a feeling of maternal enthusiasm, I explained to my angelic preschooler, DJ, and cherubic baby daughter, Lizzy, that we were going for a picnic in the sun! What fun!

"Yippee!" DJ squealed with glee. He was so sweet and full of excitement that I couldn't help but spontaneously hug and kiss him, and tell him how he was the best boy in the whole entire world. Lizzy too was the epitome of tranquility - the perfect baby.

A couple of hours later, shell-shocked and sopping wet from the foolishly unexpected torrential downpour, I wrestled my screaming, hysterical demon-children into their car seats. DJ had lost his mind in the bottom of the juice box I had given him, which it turns out wasn't juice at all but a juice "beverage". I might as well have hooked him up to a glucose IV. It wasn't the first time I had inadvertently sugared him up and had to contend with his jacked up, crazed response. I seem to suffer with a chronic case of motherhood memory loss.

As I tried to put DJ amidst his sugar convulsions into his car seat, the baby grew more and more distraught strapped into her own seat. She was not yet strong enough to fight me off as DJ was doing at that moment, and this made her furious. I was therefore surprised when she abruptly stopped screaming and simply sat there heaving and glaring at me.

Her glares, of what can only be described as unadulterated hatred, were incredibly unnerving. It made it difficult for me to concentrate on the road as we finally set off down the highway with everyone securely, albeit unhappily, belted into their seats. However, a short while later when I checked to see if Lizzy was still glaring at me, I saw that instead she was in some sort of catatonic state blankly staring out the car window.

Great - now I worried that my well-intended attempt at a joyful outing with my children had traumatized them, and caused irreparable damage to their emerging personalities.

This was not blissful contentment.

Luckily, though, it turned out Lizzy's catatonia was actually exhaustion and both children mercifully fell asleep before we arrived home.

As we got closer to the house, I wearily squinted into the rearview mirror to reassure myself that my "miracles" were in fact asleep. As I averted my eyes back to the road I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. My hair was sticking up all over the place.

Instinctively, I peeled my sticky hand off the sticky steering wheel to try and pat my hair down, but instead my hand stuck to my head. When I went to yank my hand away, I pulled out some hair and what remained stood up even more. So many sugar globules had taken refuge in my mini-van that I would be lucky if I could unglue anyone from the vehicle and have them be fully intact.

In resignation, I squinted back into the mirror with my one good eye to find that messy hair was the least of my problems. I looked like I had either been in a bar fight or else had been on some sort of all night bender. Not only had my gummy hand made my hair stick up even worse, but my right eye was red and watery and there was mascara running down the right side of my face.

I had to squint because when I was battling my flailing son into his car seat, he somehow managed to poke me in the eye, thereby causing my right contact lens to pop out of my eyeball, never to be found again. I have been wearing contact lenses since I was a teenager, and the only time I've ever heard of, or seen a contact lens pop out of someone's eye is on a cheesy sitcom. 

I must infer then that apparently my life has become some kind of cringe-worthy, half-hour TV show, minus the laugh track. Without a cue, I don’t know whether I’m supposed to laugh, cry or scream uncontrollably like a raging lunatic.

Ultimately, I’ve discovered that motherhood is chockfull of wonderful, blissful surprises tempered by heart-wrenching, jaw-clenching terror, blinding confusion and petty annoyances.

I don't know if I will ever fully recover from the trauma of this, my motherhood, but I'm keeping track of everything my children put me through for later when we're all much older and the tables have turned. When they try to get me from my wheelchair into my hospital bed, it's PAY BACK TIME.

By Rachel
Originally published online: 24 August 2007

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gender Inequality turns Females into Baby Factories

There is a strong correlation between high birth rates, poverty and gender inequality. The more destitute a woman is and the more children she has, the more subjugated she becomes. The problem is further confounded in that poor regions with the greatest number of births are also the most oppressive, patriarchal societies and violators of human rights in modern times.

Many of the religious, cultural and superstitious beliefs found in high fertility areas of Asia, Africa and South America work to indoctrinate gender inequality. Women are seen and treated as inferior, and this inferiority is perpetuated with the demands of multiple offspring. The belief that men have dominion over women and their bodies is so deeply entrenched in the culture of overpopulated nations, it makes it extremely difficult to dig out this belief and revolutionize it.

In addition, in countries with inadequate health care, inefficient infrastructures, corrupt governments and overburdened resources, children become the resource. They are like little commodities, and since child mortality rates are highest in the developing world, particularly in parts of Africa, people are inclined to have as many children as possible.

In essence, women are reduced to breeding factories that churn out new humans at an alarming rate, with possibly catastrophic consequences for the planet. 

These women are so encumbered with pregnancy, childrearing and survival that there is no time, energy or finances left for an education, even if they were allowed one – and an uneducated, unskilled female living in stark poverty, with numerous offspring to care for is a condemned woman without choices.

This then confirms the biased belief that women are useful for anything other than procreation. It is a massive set-up on a global scale. First, make it virtually impossible to contribute to society in any way other than reproduction, then point to this as proof of female inferiority. Women are thus perceived as economic liabilities, with no worth outside of marriage and childbearing. Even women, steeped in the same value systems as men, are inculcated to understand their worth lies in procreation.

It is furthermore understood that men have a right by the very laws of nature to reproduce without limits, even though women are the ones saddled with the responsibility. It is the female who gives her life, often literally, in the process of overpopulating the world.

Finally, because few if any opportunities exist for education and access to family planning strategies, women are either denied the choice of contraception or are ignorant that there even are choices. They are consequently sentenced to a life of servitude before they ever have a chance to fully develop, both physically and mentally, themselves.

Interestingly, when women are given an education, provided with the facts regarding contraception, and are able to make informed choices, they choose NOT to have huge families.

Ultimately, it seems gender inequality, as it relates to overpopulation, can only begin to be addressed through worldwide efforts to change deeply-rooted misconceptions regarding not just the female of our species, but of the entire human race.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Sewers

They were raised in The Sewers amidst rats and cockroaches, surrounded by diseased splendor and crowned with a halo of lice. This was fine when they didn’t know any better, when they were absorbed with the business of survival. There was no energy left with which to consider the social injustice of their circumstances. Those few, who were consumed with resentment, did not have the education to articulate their inner turmoil, and there were no advocates.

It wasn’t until they got older that they realized The Sewers was a derogatory name for the ghetto where they lived, but by then most didn’t care anyway. A great many inherited their parents’ addictions, and when a person is addicted nothing else matters. It is a lifestyle, where there is no dignity; where human beings copulate and defecate in the street like stray dogs, and toddlers are prostituted for a hit of heroin.

The neglected offspring of these addicts, it should be understood, were not seen as casualties of substance abuse and poverty; rather, they were a negative consequence, like delirium tremens, hepatitis and eviction notices. As such, the sewer children were treated with the same denial and resentment associated with any unwanted side effect. Besides, crystal meth kills the ability to parent and alcohol is a destructive virus.

The lack of parenting meant kids had to fend for themselves. But this again was fine – when you are born into a thing you become accustomed to it, in the same way these kids were habituated to the stench of raw sewage, or the ache of hunger in the pit of their emaciated stomachs.

Initially, they grew up vaguely aware of The Uplands where affluent metropolitans led lavish lives, discarding in a moment what took months to gather through scheming, begging and stealing. Over time, this vague awareness developed into chronic longing.

There, however, was no sympathy from The Uplands, no charitable handouts. The filthy urchins from The Sewers were treated as harshly as all vermin are treated. No one coaxes rodents from the trash with gifts of love, nourishment and shelter.

Eventually, chronic longing progressed into acute, drug-fuelled, sociopathic rage. And it was this intense anger that clawed its way out of The Sewers into the cradle of the The Uplands.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dorianna Loves her Domestic Abuse ~ Lala Fiction ~

Dorianna cowered where the yellow paint peeled away from the wall. The walls should be stripped and repainted white, she thought. She hated yellow because it didn’t do what it was supposed to do. She thought it would make the room cheerful and happy, and in a rush of uncharacteristic independence, bought a gallon of Buttercup Sunshine, without consulting her husband first. He called her Buttercup sometimes. Perhaps it was a good omen.

Then again, omens are not always good. There are bad omens, too. Dorianna realized this the moment she was overwhelmed by the exquisite pain of her nose fracturing on contact. At that precise moment, the notion that a paint color could make a person happy seemed foolish and naive.

She had not completely considered the repercussions of doing something – even something as simple as buying a bucket of paint – without her husband’s approval. She was too focused on a fantasy of smiles, laughter and gentle caresses. Her intent was to bring some sunshine into their lives, and when she first pried off the top of the paint can to a burst of brilliant yellow, she did feel cheerful for a minute.

Right now, though, she removed herself from thoughts of sunshine and concentrated on the hypnotic rhythm of the rain, as it pummeled the ground outside the bathroom window. “Just get through this part, just get through this part, just get through this part…” she thought her usual mantra as the rain chanted along with her until finally it was over.

He was sorry. He was always sorry, and this was Doranna’s favorite part. He bandaged her up and frantically kissed her cheeks, her forehead, her chin, her nose, her head, her neck…

When he pulled back, he had her blood smeared on his cheek, and she tentatively reached up to wipe his face. He laid his head in her lap and sobbed.

“You love me right?” he asked.

She stroked his greying hair and followed the line of his stubbled jaw with her fingertip. “Of course I love you. I’m sorry,” she answered him. She did not cry. Dorianna had learned a lot in the ten years she had been married to Charles. One of those things was that it was self-destructive to surrender to pain.

There were still some things that Dorianna needed to learn, however. Charles did not think she quite understood the importance of serving dinner at exactly 6 p.m. He had told her countless times that his Crown Royal on ice must be waiting for him when he came home from work.

Occasionally, Dorianna would be a few minutes late with dinner or else forget the ice in her husband’s whiskey. Her punishment was always swift, severe and strangely unexpected. Every time he hit her she believed it was the last. She was stupid and should be thankful that Charles stayed with her. She did not deserve him, and she knew it as she iced her swollen eye and wiped the blood from her broken nose.

Eventually, Dorianna found herself in the hospital surrounded by jaundiced walls and muddied nurses. This time it was Charles wiping blood from his orifices. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with his black vomitus, rectal bleeding, yellow skin, and bloated abdomen. Charles fought with the medical staff and with righteous indignation denied ever abusing alcohol to the doctors. Dorianna parroted his every deceit with averted eyes and deferential tones.

The physicians wanted to talk to Dorianna privately, but Charles would not allow it. He told her to go home and wait by the phone until he called her back to his side. Three days later he called her from his private room. He ordered her to bring massaging oils to the hospital. He would let her massage his feet and hands.

When Dorianna arrived at the hospital, Charles was filled with rage. He was catheterized and combined with his IV fluid lines he was bound to his hospital bed like a restrained, unruly beast. He told Dorianna that they were starving him and the pain medication wasn’t working. He fumed that they were all incompetent imbeciles and ridiculed his diagnosis. He wanted out of the hospital before they killed him.

Dorianna knew better than to argue with Charles. Instead, as he ranted, she silently took out the massaging oils and intently went to work. Dorianna did not miss the look of pity flit across the nurse’s face, as she walked in and out of the room while Dorianna quietly kneaded her master’s feet, in the process enduring a vile verbal onslaught against her as a useless bitch. The nurse continued to take vitals and record data, as if none of this abuse was going on, and Dorianna continued to massage her husband’s feet. For hours, Dorianna worked until her hands were cramped and her arms were weak. She did not complain.

She did not even wince when Charles kicked her in the face with the very foot she was massaging for him. Her nose was still bandaged from when he broke it earlier in the week and upon kicking her, the white bandage instantaneously flooded with bright red blood.

Later in the evening, as Charles lay sedated in a drugged sleep, Dorianna tried to steal away without any staff seeing her. She wanted a better look at her nose in the privacy of her own bathroom. But in the hallway, Dorianna ran into the same nurse who had been attending her husband earlier.

The nurse immediately took note of the fresh blood seeping from Dorianna’s bandaged nose, and without thinking asked Dorianna why she stayed.

Dorianna stared blankly at the nurse, surprised that this person would dare to ask such a personal question, when Charles had explicitly denied that privilege.

The nurse looked back at Dorianna with concern, until finally Dorianna replied. She answered as if it was the most obvious fact in the world; as if this nurse was asking her why she drank water when she was thirsty or ate food when she was hungry.

Dorianna said she stayed because she loved him.